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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    Hint: It's Not the Affordable Care Act

    Why the Jump in Health Insurance Premiums?

    Cutting Your Health Insurance Costs

    When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014, the health insurance game will change. But what can families paying more and more for job-based health insurance do next year?

    It's possible that premiums may not go up as much next year as they did this year. But don't count on it.

    "The fact of the matter is that over the longer term, premiums have gone up much faster than people's ability to afford them," Levitt says. "Premiums have gone up faster than workers' wages, faster than inflation, faster than the cost of other goods people buy. Nothing suggests this trend will change in future."

    For now, Collins says, two specific populations can take meaningful action:

    • States already have to offer health insurance plans that cover people with pre-exisiting conditions. "If you have a condition that excludes you from coverage or you need a reasonable premium, that is a place to apply," she says.
    • If you're under age 26, find out if your parents have a policy that offers dependent coverage. "This is a group with high unemployment right now, and this is a really broad benefit," Collins says.

    Levitt recommends that people access the healthcare.gov web site, which offers a clear guide to buying health insurance.

    "Plans can vary a lot in cost and coverage. Comparison shopping is the key," he says. "But it still isn't as easy as it should be, because you can still be excluded or charged more for underlying conditions. That won't change until 2014."

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